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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 23rd Nov 2020

News Highlights

Toronto under 28-day lockdown as hospitals gear up for record surge of cases

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau anticipated a possible quadrupling of coronavirus cases by year end and appealed to Canadians to stay at home as much as possible to fight the second wave of the pandemic spreading through the country. Toronto will be placed into a 28-day lockdown starting today to prevent overwhelming hospitals in red zones, with restaurants, bars, cinemas and performing arts centres all being banned from operating.

Covid-19 cases in India cross nine million as some states contemplate new lockdowns

A few days after his deputy warned of the possibility of a new lockdown in his state of Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addressed people and appealed to them to follow Covid-19 protocols to control surging coronavirus cases. While India has seen an overall decline in new cases recently, major metropolitan cities such as Delhi and Mumbai are seeing an alarming rise in new cases just after the festive season of Diwali.

Night time curfew imposed in California to fight Covid-19 spike

An overnight curfew has been imposed in California since the weekend, with a surge in coronavirus cases threatening to overwhelm the hospital system. Until December 21, people will only be allowed to be outdoors between 10pm and 5am for essential activities such as grocery shopping or walking their pets as health authorities focus on controlling the virus by keeping people from drinking and mixing socially.

AstraZeneca tests potential Covid-19 vaccine for people who cannot be vaccinated

Pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca, is testing a potential Covid-19 vaccine that could be an alternative for people who cannot receive the traditional vaccine since they don't have fully functioning immune systems. The potential vaccine, now in its final stage of trials, was developed using antibodies from a single coronavirus patient in the U.S. and close to 5,000 people are now involved in the trial globally.

Lockdown Exit
Christmas in lockdown preferred by UK public over new restrictions in January
Most of the public would rather have a locked-down Christmas than have a new lockdown imposed in January, a new poll suggests. With the government considering the extent to which restrictions should be lifted to limit the impact on Christmas family gatherings, the latest Opinium poll for the Observer found that the public opted for a locked-down Christmas over new January restrictions by a margin of 54% to 33%. This split is almost identical across all party groups and demographics, with older voters in particular preferring to lock down over Christmas rather than in January. There was also strong support for banning people from posting conspiracy theories about the vaccine online, with 64% supporting the idea.
HSE deploying resources to reduce Covid-19 threat at Kerry nursing home 'in chaos'
The HSE is doing everything it can to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on a Kerry nursing home. The executive took control of the Oaklands nursing home in Listowel yesterday after a district court hearing was told it was 'a centre in chaos' where there was a 'serious risk to life.' The HSE is making alternative arrangements for its elderly residents on foot of an order sought at short notice in court. HSE director general Paul Reid has said that the HSE is doing everything that needs to be done at the Oaklands nursing home in Kerry, control of which was taken over by the executive on Thursday.
Britons could start to receive coronavirus vaccine next month
The NHS could start immunising Britons against coronavirus as soon as next month, if regulators approve a Covid-19 vaccine, health secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday. People are due to be vaccinated at special centres across the UK, and also by general practitioners, under the NHS plans. Mr Hancock’s statement came as new data suggested a levelling-off in the rate at which coronavirus is spreading across the country, raising hopes that families might be able to mix at Christmas if social restrictions are eased. The UK government will next week hold discussions with the devolved administrations to try to agree a unified approach to restrictions during the Christmas period.
NHS assembles army of staff for mass coronavirus vaccinations
The NHS is bringing together an army of retired doctors, health visitors and physiotherapists to embark on the country’s biggest ever mass vaccination programme, the Guardian has learned. The extraordinary effort in England will also include district nurses and high street chemists alongside GPs in the drive to immunise 22 million vulnerable adults, followed by the rest of the population. NHS documents seen by the Guardian show the rollout will rely in part on “inexperienced staff” who will have undergone two hours of online training before starting work. The slides also reveal codenames for two of the most promising vaccines in development: the Pfizer/BioNTech version is called “Courageous” and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is known as “Talent”.
Covid vaccine: US military ready to deliver 40 million doses once FDA approves
A US general said the military is prepared to deliver Pfizer and Moderna's coronavirus vaccines as soon as they receive emergency use authorisation from the government. US General Gustave Perna, chief operations officer for Operation Warp Speed, told ABC News Friday that the military is ready to deliver millions of vaccine doses once the US Food and Drug Administration grants them emergency use authorisation. Pfizer submitted its vaccine to the US FDA today. Moderna will submit its vaccine later this month. The companies said they expect to produce 50 million doses in 2020 and up to 1.3bn doses by the end of 2021.
COVID-19: Vaccination site location revealed as council building identified
A council building in Leicestershire has been identified as a vaccination site, with the UK gearing up to roll out widespread coronavirus jabs if safety regulators give the go-ahead. Charnwood Borough Council has told Sky News that an area of its offices will be handed over to Ministry of Defence teams by mid-December "for at least nine months".
Exit Strategies
First Americans could get COVID-19 vaccine by December 11, top health official says
The first Americans could receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as 24 hours after the FDA grants approval, which would kick off the largest inoculation campaign in U.S. history starting in mid-December. "Within 24 hours from the approval, the vaccine will be moving and located in the areas where each state will have told us where they want the vaccine doses," Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for the government's "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine program, told NBC's "Meet the Press."
Maine planning for massive rollout of COVID-19 vaccines
When the trucks roll into Maine with the first batches of COVID-19 vaccine doses – perhaps as soon as mid-December – the state will need to overcome many logistical hurdles to bring the vaccines to pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals, schools, fire halls and eventually the arms of patients. The mass vaccination effort will be a daunting operation, and planning for it has been underway for months. The pandemic has accelerated this fall, so getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible is a top priority for public health officials. Since the pandemic began last winter, more than 255,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, including 174 in Maine.
Covid-19 vaccine not to be compulsory, says Health Secretary
The Scottish Government has outlined its distribution plan for an inoculation to the virus, with hopes it could be available in the first week of December. However, Ms Freeman told the BBC there would be a public information campaign put in place to dispel any concerns held about the vaccine rather than making them mandatory.
South Australia emerges carefully from COVID-19 outbreak
South Australia was on track on Saturday to end its hard COVID-19 lockdown three days early, recording only one new infection, while other states marked weeks of no new cases or deaths related to the novel coronavirus. The lockdown, which kept people in South Australia at home and the majority of businesses shut, was imposed earlier this week after false information provided to contact tracers by a man who tested positive raised fears of mass infections. The lockdown, planned for six days, was to be lifted as of Sunday, although a range of measures were to remain to limit big crowds
Inching toward normal, Australia eases some COVID-19 curbs
Australia moved a step closer to normal life on Sunday, opening some internal borders and easing restrictions in regions affected by COVID-19, as the vast majority of the country has seen no new community infections or deaths for weeks. South Australia, which last week became the epicentre of the country’s infections, reported no new community cases and lifted a drastic lockdown earlier than planned, with the state premier saying swift action had avoided disaster. The number of active cases in the state stood at 37 after an outbreak linked to a returned traveller from Britain forced 4,500 people to quarantine. “We have avoided a catastrophic situation in our state by following the unequivocal health advice,” Premier Steven Marshall told a news briefing.
France to start easing lockdown rules in three steps, government spokesman says
France will start easing coronavirus lockdown rules in coming weeks, carrying out the process in three stages so as to avoid a new flareup in the pandemic, the government said on Sunday. On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron will give a speech to the nation about the virus situation and may announce a partial relaxation of restrictions which have been in place since Oct. 30. “Emmanuel Macron will give prospects over several weeks, especially on how we adjust our strategy. What is at stake is adapting lockdown rules as the health situation improves while avoiding a new flare up in the epidemic,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Le Journal Du Dimanche. “There will be three steps to (lockdown) easing in view of the health situation and of risks tied to some businesses: a first step around Dec. 1, then before the year-end holidays, and then from January 2021,” Attal added.
Britons ‘to receive freedom passes if they pass two Covid tests a week’
Britons could be given special 'freedom passes' if they test negative for coronavirus twice a week. Passholders would have to show that they have been regularly tested with an electronic form, it has been reported. The pass, which could take the form of a QR code, would allow holders to live a relatively normal life. Boris Johnson is said to be set to unveil the scheme on Monday when he launches the Government's Covid Winter Plan.
More States Offer Covid-19 Contact-Tracing Apps, But Adoption Is Uneven
Covid-19 contact-tracing apps from Apple Inc. and Google are coming to more states, along with evidence that they can help slow infections as long as enough people use them. Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have recently adopted the “exposure notification” technology the companies built into their smartphone operating systems—Big Tech’s most significant contribution to the fight against Covid-19. California, and other states are piloting the technology and could release it soon.
Covid-19: Hong Kong-Singapore travel corridor postponed
The launch of a travel corridor between Hong Kong and Singapore has been postponed for two weeks amid a surge of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong. The deal was due to kick in on Sunday, allowing passengers to fly both ways without the need to self-isolate. The decision is a blow to attempts by the two financial hubs to revive their battered travel sectors. Hong Kong reported 43 new infections on Saturday, the highest daily toll in nearly three months. The number includes 13 cases with unknown transmission sources, raising fears the local outbreak could get out of control.
Covid restrictions: Doctors call for Rule of Six to be scrapped after lockdown ends in England
Doctors have called for the Rule of Six to be scrapped when the England-wide lockdown is lifted in December, and instead replaced with older restrictions that allow only two households to meet. The British Medical Association (BMA) said the previous tiered system was “inconsistent” and did not contain the spread of the virus, and warned the rules must be revised before the national lockdown ends.
Polish malls to reopen, but PM warns against Christmas travel
Shopping centres will reopen in Poland in a week’s time, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Saturday, in a boost to retailers in the run-up to Christmas, but he added that the government was working on rules to limit travel. The government closed entertainment venues and some shops from Nov. 7 after a surge in COVID-19 cases, but infections have levelled off since then, allowing some loosening of restrictions. There is one condition: ... the discipline of every shop, mall, furniture store. If not, these stores will be closed,” Morawiecki told a news conference. “These decisions can save hundreds of thousands of jobs, which is why we are taking them,” he said.
England not going back to normal after lockdown, official says
It is too soon to say what restrictions England will face once its COVID lockdown ends next month but it will not be going back to normal, health officials said on Friday. Stephen Powis, the medical director of England’s NHS health service, said the government would be lifting the current restrictions on Dec 2 but added: “I am sure we will not be going back to normal - further restrictions will be required.”
Families ‘can visit relatives in care homes at Christmas’ with roll out of rapid 30 minute coronavirus tests
A London council has vowed relatives will be able to see their loved one in care homes this Christmas as they started planning 30-minute on-the-spot Covid tests for families. Hammersmith and Fulham began borough-wide targeted coronavirus testing this week using the lateral flow swabs - piloted in Liverpool - which produce results in under an hour. The council, which is running the operation in conjunction with the Government, will initially test asymptomatic frontline workers in nursing homes and in GP practices, followed by school staff, social workers, people in sheltered homes and other key workers.
NHS to start giving Covid-19 vaccine to under-50s by end of January, leaked papers say
The NHS is planning to roll out the coronavirus vaccine to under 50s by the end of January, it has been reported. Under the plan every adult in England who wants to would have been vaccinated by early April. Two Covid vaccines have already been proven to be effective but still need to pass safety tests before they are rolled out to the public. And a third, produced by Oxford/AstraZeneca, this week reported good news about its effectiveness among the elderly. As healthcare is devolved the NHS services in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be creating their own plans.
The world's now scrambling for dry ice. It's just one headache in getting coronavirus vaccines where they need to go
Vaccines like to be kept cool, none more so than the Pfizer candidate for Covid-19, which has to be deep-frozen. And that's going to be an issue for developing countries -- and for rural areas in the developed world. The "cold chain" is just one of the challenges in distributing vaccines worldwide. There are plenty of others: decisions about priority populations and databases to keep track of who's received what vaccine, where and when. Additionally, different vaccines may have more or less efficacy with different population groups; and governments will need PR campaigns to persuade people that vaccines are safe.
Bristol professor says coronavirus vaccine roll-out should not just focus on age
The roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine should not solely prioritise people by age, a Bristol expert has argued. Gabriel Scally says there needs to be "more discussion" before the government finalises the priority list, outlining who should be at the front of the queue once a COVID-19 vaccine is ready. Speaking in a virtual meeting of the Independent SAGE committee of scientists this afternoon (Friday, November 20), he suggested people's professions and the prevalence of coronavirus in their neighbourhoods should also be considered.
Dr Fauci allays Covid vaccine development speed concerns, reiterates public health measures – video
Dr Anthony Fauci speaks at the coronavirus task force press briefing, marking his first appearance at the White House podium in months. The infectious disease expert has moved to allay concerns about the speed with which the coronavirus vaccine has been developed, and implored Americans to continue basic public health measures until it is rolled out
Nursing home worker says COVID-19 restrictions causing depression in residents
Eight months since the coronavirus caused widespread lockdowns across the country, a dietitian at a nursing home in Sacramento, California, said its residents have been suffering from isolation, and it has led to a slate of emotional and behavioral problems. “The older population already runs the risk of being very lonely in our society, whether they live in a facility such as ours or they live at home. So that was something we saw right away among the dementia patients — the ones who really require a lot of routine and normalcy,” Katy Tenner told ABC News’ daily podcast, “Start Here.” “There was nothing normal or routine about suddenly having their loved ones not being able to come visit.”
Partisan Exits
'People need mountains': Swiss ski resorts buck Alpine lockdowns
Blue skies over the Matterhorn drew skiers and snowboarders to Zermatt on Saturday, as well as police to break up crowds, as Switzerland’s modest coronavirus restrictions allowed near-normal operations while other Alpine resorts keep their lifts shut. France, Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered even the high-altitude lifts that could be running this early in the winter to remain closed for now in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak-season, if and when the infection rate slows. Switzerland, despite being a second-wave coronavirus hotspot with 5,000 infections a day and mounting deaths, is hoping that a middle way of social distancing, limits on gatherings and mask-wearing on lifts can prop up pillars of the economy such as tourism without fuelling the pandemic.
South Australia to end lockdown early after pizza parlour blunder
South Australia’s six-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown will be cut short, officials said on Friday, blaming a pizza parlour worker who misled contact tracers about how he contracted the virus. Premier Steven Marshall indicated a tough lockdown for the state’s almost two million people would end late on Saturday, at least two days earlier than planned. Marshall said a man who claimed he was a customer at a pizza parlour hotspot – leading authorities to believe the strain was virulent enough to be transmitted via a takeaway box – in fact worked there. “One of the close contacts linked to the Woodville pizza bar deliberately misled our contact-tracing team,” said Marshall. “Their story didn’t add up. We pursued them. We now know that they lied.”
Coronavirus vaccines: Will any countries get left out?
Early results indicate that at least two vaccines are highly effective, several others have reached late-stage trials, and many more are at some stage of development. None of these vaccines have been approved yet, but that hasn't stopped countries purchasing doses in advance. A key research centre in the US - Duke University in North Carolina - is trying to keep tabs on all the deals being done. It estimates that 6.4 billion doses of potential vaccines have already been bought, and another 3.2 billion are either under negotiation or reserved as "optional expansions of existing deals". The process of advance purchasing is well established in the pharmaceutical industry, as it can help to incentivise the development of products and fund trials, according to Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics.
Unions call for frontline UK workers to be prioritised for Covid vaccine
Unions have called for key frontline workers to be granted priority access to an approved Covid vaccine after they were omitted from the list of those who should receive it first. The unions, representing more than 1.8 million employees, say that by prioritising only the elderly and health and social care workers, the distribution plan fails to protect other key workers with increased risk of exposure. Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: “It is absolutely correct that social care staff and health workers receive the vaccine at an early stage so they are protected and are not at risk of inadvertently transmitting the virus.
Doing the Touchy Math on Who Should Get a COVID Vaccine First
If the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics, as Galileo once declared, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought that truth home for the world's mathematicians, who have been galvanized by the rapid spread of the coronavirus. So far this year, they have been involved in everything from revealing how contagious the novel coronavirus is, how far we should stand from each other, how long an infected person might shed the virus, how a single strain spread from Europe to New York and then burst across America, and how to ‘'flatten the curve’' to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Modeling also helped persuade the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the virus can be airborne and transmitted by aerosols that stay aloft for hours.
Coronavirus vaccine may be coming, but many in Texas will have to wait
Officials are preparing for the massive undertaking of distributing a vaccine that may require multiple doses and subzero storage temperatures across a state that covers 270,000 square miles and some 170 rural counties.
Continued Lockdown
Germany braces for extension of lockdown month into December
Germany will have to extend its measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic until Dec. 20, according to senior politicians and a draft proposal obtained by Reuters on Sunday. Germany imposed a month-long “lockdown-lite” from Nov. 2 to contain a second wave of the virus that is sweeping much of Europe, but infection numbers have not declined. “Everything points to the fact that the current restrictions must be extended for some time beyond Nov. 30,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told Bild am Sonntag (BamS). Bars and restaurants are closed, but schools and shops remain open. Private gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households and the draft proposal says that number would be reduced to five.
Threat to central London as commuters embrace suburbs, warns Sadiq Khan
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a potential “existential threat” to central London because many people may in future choose to work in the suburbs rather than in the heart of the capital, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said on Sunday. In an interview in the Observer New Review, the mayor says it is issues such as this possible reconfiguration of London that keep him awake at night. He also talks openly about his struggles with mental health during the pandemic, admitting that he has found it “really hard” working from home, that he misses personal contact, including playing football every Sunday, and that lack of access to his wider family and particularly his mother has left him feeling down.
I miss the audience: a French performer's life in COVID lockdown
On the stage at the Hebertot theatre in Paris, Trinidad Garcia is re-enacting a scene from her one-woman show, “For you to keep loving yourself,” to an audience of zero.
Britain hopes Christmas can be saved as COVID cases flatten
Britain could ease stringent COVID-19 rules to allow families to gather for Christmas as signs indicate that coronavirus cases are starting to flatten as a result of current lockdowns, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday. The United Kingdom has the worst official COVID-19 death toll in Europe and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed some of the most stringent curbs in peacetime history in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus. But heading into the holiday season, the government faces a dilemma - to ease restrictions, with the risk of renewed spread of the disease and death, or to ban large get-togethers.“It of course won’t be like a normal Christmas, there will have to be rules in place,” Hancock told Sky News.
Italy approves latest stimulus package to help pandemic-hit business
Italy’s government has approved a new package worth around 10 billion euros ($11.9 billion) to support businesses hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the measures approved late on Friday, Rome will immediately offer 1.95 billion euros in grants to coronavirus-hit businesses and food aid for the poor. The government is also preparing an additional 8 billion euros to beef up aid schemes already in place. On Friday, the health ministry reported 37,242 new coronavirus infections and 699 deaths, as the country struggles to curb a resurgence of cases and fatalities which are stretching its health service to breaking point.
Covid-19: Gulf emerging between government and health officials over ending lockdown
Cabinet members have expressed their annoyance at their own public health officials over the “stalling” in the progress in reducing the cases of Covid-19. A fresh gulf is emerging between political leaders and medics over the road out of lockdown in two weeks’ time with ministers expressing annoyance at the lack of progress. Ministers have said that the basis of introducing the level 5 lockdown for six weeks was to get the daily cases of the virus below 100, and that is being undermined by the stubborn refusal of the numbers to drop. The Department of Health was notified of 429 confirmed cases of the coronavirus last night.
Scientific Viewpoint
In Dr. Fauci's words: Why Americans shouldn't fear a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the FDA
Public confidence in the vaccine approval process is key to beating the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci emphasized to the USA TODAY Editorial Board.
Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody treatment given to Trump is given emergency clearance by the FDA
The experimental drug was given to Trump during his stay in Walter Reed FDA said the cocktail should be given to treat mild to moderate COVID cases Regeneron said the drug has the greatest benefit early on in treatment
Experimental drug given to Trump to treat covid-19 wins FDA clearance
The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday granted emergency authorization to the experimental antibody treatment given to President Trump last month when he developed covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The drug, made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is designed to prevent infected people from developing severe illness. Instead of waiting for the body to develop its own protective immune response, the drug imitates the body’s natural defenses. It is the second drug of this type — called a monoclonal antibody — to be cleared for treating covid-19. The FDA authorized Eli Lilly & Co.’s drug on Nov. 9.
A Look At COVID-19 Vaccine Development Progress
The race to develop COVID-19 vaccines is moving swiftly, both nationally and internationally. But challenges remain when it comes to distributing vaccines around the world. This week, the nation passed the milestone of 250,000 deaths from COVID-19 - a quarter of a million lives lost to a pandemic that continues to rage from coast to coast across the country. But even amid the warnings of a dark winter ahead and the CDC strongly recommending that Americans stay home for Thanksgiving next week, there is hope.
Why the race to find Covid-19 vaccines is far from over
While everyone celebrated this month’s news that not one but two experimental vaccines against Covid-19 have proved at least 90% effective at preventing disease in late-stage clinical trials, research into understanding how the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, interacts with the human immune system never paused. There are plenty of questions still to answer about the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines: how well will they protect the elderly, for example, and how long for? Which aspects of the immune response that they elicit are protective and which aren’t? Can even better results be achieved, with vaccines that target different parts of the immune system?
Remdesivir: don't use drug Trump took for Covid-19, WHO says
Remdesivir, one of the drugs Donald Trump took when he developed Covid-19, should not be used in hospitals because there is no evidence it works, the World Health Organization has advised. The US president was an enthusiastic proponent of the drug, to the point where he boasted in July that he had bought up the world’s entire stock for Americans. The WHO’s guidelines committee, however, has said Covid patients may be better off without it. The WHO issued what it calls a “living guideline”, which can be updated as evidence comes in, largely as a result of a Solidarity trial it led in several countries. Solidarity allocated patients randomly to several drugs including remdesivir and found that those who took it were no more likely to survive severe Covid than those who did not.
Trials For AstraZeneca's Covid-19 Treatment Set To Begin In UK
The UK will be the first country to begin clinical trials of a new coronavirus antibody treatment developed by drugs giant AstraZeneca aimed at people with a weakened immune system who cannot be vaccinated. A participant in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, will be the first in the world to receive the pharmaceutical company’s new “antibody cocktail” as part of the trial to test whether it will prevent Covid-19 for up to year. The clinical trial programme will recruit 5,000 participants, which includes 1,000 people from nine sites in the UK. The aim of the trial is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a combination of two long-acting monoclonal antibodies – man-made proteins that act like natural human antibodies in the immune system.
Covid-19 carriers 'most infectious earlier on'
People are most likely to pass on coronavirus within the first five days of having symptoms, an extensive study suggests. The research indicates patients had the highest levels of virus early on in their illness and "live" virus, capable of replicating, was found up to nine days after symptoms began. UK scientists say their study emphasises early isolation is critical to stopping spread. The work appears in the Lancet Microbe.
Covid-19: Alternative jab trialled and antibodies 'last at least six months'
1. Jab for people who cannot be vaccinated trialled - For those without functioning immune systems, a possible alternative to a vaccine is entering its final stage of trials. It is hoped the jab could provide at least six months' protection for those unable to receive vaccines.
GPs will not deliver bulk of Covid-19 vaccines given this year, says Hancock
GPs will not be required to deliver the majority of Covid-19 vaccinations that are administered this year, the health secretary has confirmed. In today’s Downing Street press briefing Matt Hancock said mass vaccination centres would deliver the bulk of the programme next month – and GPs would take a more prominent role in 2021. The health secretary also confirmed the MHRA has been asked to assess the Pfizer vaccine, representing the final step before the vaccination programme can begin. Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said at the briefing that the speed of rollout depended on manufacturing and regulatory constraints. He said: ‘It’s in the hands of the manufacturers and the regulatory agencies around how quickly batches can be released for use if they are authorised.’
Moderna's Covid vaccine offers vindication of its unconventional approach
When Stéphane Bancel took the top job at Moderna 10 years ago, he warned his wife the business had only a 5 per cent chance of success. The Boston-based biotech was trying to invent a new generation of medicines based on an unproved genetic engineering technique and, instead of investing in drugs one by one, was aiming to raise record amounts of money to build a platform that would work to develop the entire class of new products. Thanks to the biggest public health crisis in a generation, it now looks likely that Moderna will win approval for the first product created by this approach three or four years ahead of schedule, after early data published this week showed its Covid-19 vaccine to be almost 95 per cent effective.
Pfizer applies for emergency vaccine approval as U.S. cases reach new high
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Friday became the first companies to seek emergency authorization for a coronavirus vaccine in the United States, a landmark moment and a signal that a powerful tool to help control the pandemic could begin to be available by late December. Conditions around the country remain dire: The United States reported a record high of more than 196,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday and is likely to cross 12 million cases nationwide on Saturday, six days after surpassing 11 million.
Wealthy nations urged to give portion of Covid vaccine as 'humanitarian buffer'
Public health groups are lobbying countries to commit a portion of their Covid-19 vaccine supplies to a “humanitarian buffer” that would be used to inoculate people living in rebel-held territories, those in asylum-seeker camps and others unlikely to receive vaccinations from their governments. The emergency stockpile is intended to act as a safety net to ensure the global effort to end the Covid-19 pandemic is not sabotaged by governments using vaccines as bargaining chip with restive populations, or simply denying it to some marginalised groups. “In Syria there are a lot of internally displaced people who might end up in areas not controlled by the government, or they might be considered to be anti-government or pro-revolution,” said Alain Alsalhani, a vaccine pharmacist who works with Médecins Sans Frontières.
Pfizer, BioNTech submit emergency authorization request to FDA Friday for COVID-19 vaccine
Pfizer and partner BioNTech announced they have submitted a request on Friday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. "It is with great pride and joy, and even a little relief, but I can say that our request for emergency use authorization for our COVID-19 vaccine is now in the FDA's hands," Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in a video statement Friday afternoon. "This is a historic day, a historic day for science and for all of us. It took just 248 days to get from the day we announced our plans to collaborate with BioNTech to our FDA submission day."
People with coronavirus ‘most likely to be highly infectious in first week after showing symptoms’
People infected with coronavirus are most likely to be highly infectious in the first week after symptoms appear, research has found. Genetic material of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, may still be detected in respiratory or stool samples for several weeks after infection. However, no live virus was found in any type of sample collected beyond nine days of symptoms starting, the study found. Researchers said people with the virus are mostly likely to be highly infectious for five days after symptom onset. The review published in The Lancet Microbe suggested people infected with Sars-CoV-2 are most likely to be highly infectious in the first week after symptom onset.
Almost a million people have been given an experimental Chinese coronavirus vaccine, pharmaceutical giant claims
Almost a million people have been given an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Sinopharm as part of an emergency-use program authorized by Beijing, the Chinese pharmaceutical giant's chairman said. No serious adverse effects have been reported from vaccine recipients so far, Sinopharm said Wednesday in an article on social media platform WeChat, citing Chairman Liu Jingzhen. "In emergency use, we now have used it on nearly a million people. We have not received any reports of serious adverse reaction, and only a few have some mild symptoms," Liu said.
COVID-19: Pfizer requests emergency authorisation for coronavirus vaccine in US
Pfizer and BioNTech are submitting an emergency authorisation request in the US which could allow its coronavirus vaccine to be used to treat high-risk populations in the country by mid-December. The UK has already ordered enough of the vaccine to treat 20 million people but it has not yet been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Covid: Jab for people who cannot be vaccinated trialled
A possible alternative to a vaccine, for people without functioning immune systems, is entering its final stage of trials. The injection was developed using antibodies - made by the immune system to fight infection - produced by a single Covid patient in the US. It is hoped it could provide at least six months' protection for patients who cannot receive vaccines. Trials involving 1,000 UK participants begin in Manchester on Saturday. A further 4,000 people are involved in the trial globally, which is being organised by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Participants will be given either an injection containing two different Covid-19 antibodies, which have been specially engineered to last longer in the body - or a placebo.
Scientists race to find 'warm' Covid vaccine to solve issue of cold storage
News that one of the potential coronavirus vaccines had at least a 90% efficacy rate was a “victory for science”, said K Srinath Reddy, a cardiologist and president of the Public Health Foundation of India. But it meant little to his country’s 1.3 billion citizens. “For us, the Pfizer vaccine is more of a scientific curiosity than a practical possibility,” Reddy said. The need to store the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at at least -70C(-94F), with its required cold-chain infrastructure, puts it out of the reach of up to two-thirds of the world’s population, including swathes of south Asia, Africa and even rural parts of the US and South America, according to German logistics company DHL.
EU regulator ‘hopeful’ about coronavirus vaccine approval by year-end
Amid rising cases and second-wave lockdowns, Europe might have a coronavirus vaccine authorized to use before the end of 2020. Speaking during POLITICO’s Health Care Summit Wednesday, the head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Emer Cooke, said she’s “hopeful” that the agency will have an opinion about whether to authorize a coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech by the end of the year. Cooke’s comments followed breaking news that the companies found their vaccine to be 95 percent effective after completing a full review of their ongoing large-scale Phase 3 clinical trial.
Covid-19: A 'step forward' in vaccine roll-out plans and infections levelling off
The UK government has formally asked the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to assess the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one of the frontrunners in the race for a coronavirus cure. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was "another important step forward" and that, if approved, it would be available across the NHS for free across all of the UK. He said the UK has contributed more than any other country towards researching a vaccine, something he said the country should be proud of. It follows Pfizer and BioNTech seeking emergency authorisation for the vaccine in the US.
Health staff, care homes and over 80s to get Covid vaccine first
Frontline health workers, care home residents and staff and over 80s will be first to get a coronavirus vaccine in Scotland. Next in line will be over 65s and younger people with underlying health conditions likely to badly affected by the virus. More than one million people in Scotland could be vaccinated by the end of January, the health secretary Jeane Freeman told parliament on Thursday. Everyone aged over 18 – around 4.4m people – will eventually be offered the protection from Covid-19, with rollout possibly starting from the first week of December if a vaccine is approved by then.
NHS worker first volunteer in stage-three coronavirus vaccine trial
An NHS worker has become the very first person to be recruited for the final stage of a coronavirus vaccine trial. Claire Cole is the first person in the world to give consent to participate in phase-three of a trial to test the safety and efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Cole, head of research delivery at Manchester University, is one of 6,000 volunteers in the UK and 30,000 worldwide who are being recruited for the study, which will take place at 17 National Institute for Health Research sites in the UK, including one in Manchester.
Covid-19 news: NHS drafts plan to vaccinate adults in England by April
A draft of NHS England’s plan for the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine aims for widespread vaccination of all willing adults in England by early April, if sufficient doses and other crucial supplies are available. Under NHS England’s draft covid-19 vaccine deployment programme, which was outlined in a leaked document dated 13 November seen by HSJ, most doses of the potential vaccine would be administered between early January and mid-March, at a rate of between 4 and 5 million each week.
Is Inovio Back in the Coronavirus Vaccine Race?
Inovio Pharmaceuticals investors can breathe a little easier this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted a partial clinical hold on the planned phase 2 study of the company's investigational coronavirus vaccine. The biotech can now move forward with that part of the trial. Adding to the good news, Inovio said the U.S. Department of Defense will fund the phase 2 and phase 3 trials. Inovio shares, down 34% since the announcement of the partial hold in late September, jumped nearly 15% in one trading session. So does this mean Inovio is back as one of the main players in the coronavirus race? Well, it's clear the hold set the company behind from a timeline perspective. But rapidity isn't everything in this race. Let's take a closer look at where Inovio stands right now.
A Global Covid Vaccine Heist
Breakthroughs on vaccines and new treatments are finally offering the world a path to end the Covid-19 pandemic. They’re a tribute to private U.S. corporate innovation, but now developing countries led by India and South Africa are making a damaging bid to waive patent protections for these life-saving advances. The attempt will surface Friday when these countries offer a resolution at the World Trade Organization meeting to waive patent protections for Covid vaccines, therapies and other technologies. They say this is needed to ensure poor countries have equal access, but their effort would harm everyone, including the poor.
First batch of coronavirus vaccine ready in Australia by New Year's Day
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being produced by biotechnology giant CSL, is on track to be ready by December 28 but will need to be tested in various clinical trials.
MMR jab could help protect people from coronavirus until a vaccine is ready, study finds
The MMR jab could be used to slow the spread of Covid-19 while Britons are gradually inoculated with vaccines being developed for the virus, a study suggests. Researchers have found that people who had had the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine as a child suffered far less severe symptoms of Covid – in many cases having mild symptoms or not symptoms at all. “The study found a statistically significant inverse relationship between the level of mumps antibodies and Covid-19. This indicates that there is a relationship that warrants further investigation,” said Professor David Hurley, of the University of Georgia. “If it has the ultimate benefit of preventing infection from Covid-19, preventing the spread of Covid-19, reducing the severity of it, or a combination of any or all of those, it is a very high reward low risk ratio intervention. It would be prudent to vaccinate [people of all ages],” he said.
Lockdowns could be avoided if 95% of people wore masks, says WHO
Lockdowns could be avoided if everyone followed health measures such as wearing masks, the World Health Organization's top Europe official said at a Thursday news briefing. WHO Europe's Regional Director Hans Kluge stressed that lockdowns should be a "last resort," and urged the public to follow guidance to help to prevent deaths. He said that if 95% of people wore masks, instead of the current 60%, "lockdowns would not be needed" -- although he added that mask use was not a "panacea" and needed to be combined with other measures. "If we all do our share, lockdowns are avoidable," Kluge said.
A nasal spray that can protect against Covid-19 is now ‘ready for use in humans
A nasal spray that can provide effective protection against Covid-19 is now ready for use in humans, according to researchers. The spray has been developed by scientists at the University of Birmingham and is formulated using compounds already widely approved by regulatory bodies in the UK, Europe and the US.
Oxford vaccine produces strong response in older adults, early data reveals
Hopes have been raised that the UK could produce a successful coronavirus vaccine after data from the University of Oxford showed its jab provokes a strong immune response in older people. The ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 vaccine, developed with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, has been shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and people over 70. Phase two data, published in The Lancet, suggests one of the groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid-19 could build immunity, researchers say.
Childhood vaccine linked to less severe COVID-19, cigarette smoke raises risk
The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
One in three elderly Covid-19 patients are delirious, study finds
817 Covid-19 patients over the age of 65 in hospital were in the study Had an average age of 78 and 226 (28 per cent) were diagnosed as delirius 84 (37 per cent) did not have any typical Covid-19 symptoms
Coronavirus Resurgence
Covid rampages across US, unifying a splintered nation as cases surge
The virus is on the rise so uniformly across the vast landmass of the US, that records are being shattered daily. Chris McGreal in Kansas City, Kenya Evelyn in Milwaukee, Vivian Ho in Oakland and Adam Gabbatt and Ed Pilkington in New York. The Disunited States of America are united once more. After a brutal election that exacerbated bitter partisan divisions and left the country feeling as though it had been torn in two, it has at last been thrown back together. For all the wrong reasons. The great leveler is coronavirus. Covid-19 is rampaging across the US as though it were on a personal mission to unify the splintered nation in an unfolding catastrophe. Of the 50 states of the Union, all but one – isolated Hawaii – is seeing alarming surges in new cases. The virus is on the rise so uniformly across the vast landmass of the US, that records are being shattered daily.
Portugal to ban domestic travel, close schools around national holidays
Portugal is to ban domestic travel and close schools around two upcoming holidays in a bid to reduce the spread of coronavirus ahead of Christmas, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Saturday. Travel between municipalities will be banned from 11 p.m. on Nov. 27 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 2, and then again from 11 p.m. on Dec. 4 to 5 a.m. on Dec. 9, to prevent movement around national holidays on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8. Schools will close on the Mondays before both holidays, while businesses must close early. Employers are being encouraged to give workers the day off in order to minimise travel activity. “We continue to have a very high number of cases which is a threat to our health,” Costa told a press conference. “We must persist to not only halt that growth rate but invert it.”
The US recorded 195,000 new Covid-19 cases in a day. An expert says spread is now 'faster' and 'broader' than ever
The number of US coronavirus cases surpassed 12 million Saturday -- an increase of more than 1 million cases in less than a week. At least 12,085,389 cases have been confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and 255,823 Americans have died. It's another horrific milestone in a month full of devastating Covid-19 records in the country. November already accounts for almost a quarter of all Covid-19 cases and 9% of deaths. Almost every state has reported a rapid surge in cases, and nationwide numbers have been climbing much faster than ever before -- with the country reporting a staggering 2.9 million infections since the beginning of the month.
Some Russian hospitals face shortages of COVID-19 drugs
Some Russian hospitals are experiencing serious shortages of drugs used to treat COVID-19 and cannot restock because of panic buying, high demand and problems with a new labelling system, officials, distributors and doctors said.
California enacts nighttime curfew as COVID-19 cases spike
California enacts a nighttime curfew Saturday as spiking coronavirus cases threaten to swamp health care systems and the state's largest county warned that an even more drastic lockdown could be imminent. The newest restrictions require people not on essential errands to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Dec. 21, with a possible extension if rapidly worsening trends don’t improve. People will be allowed to shop for groceries, pick up food and even walk their dogs. Authorities say the focus is on keeping people from social mixing and drinking — the kinds of activities that are blamed for causing COVID-19 infections to soar after dipping only a few months ago. Dr. Mark Cullen, an infectious disease expert who recently retired from Stanford University, said the underlying goal is based on a reasonable interpretation of data.
Iran tightens COVID-19 restrictions, but some streets still busy
Iran introduced tougher restrictions on Saturday to stem a third wave of coronavirus infections, including closing non-essential businesses and travel curbs, but state media reported widespread flouting of the rules. “Tehran streets are crowded despite the restrictions,” state TV said on Saturday morning. It said some non-essential businesses were open, but later showed mostly empty streets and shuttered shops. The semi-official ISNA news agency posted photos of crammed metro trains with the hashtag “Coronavirus kills.” Other media sites posted photos of packed buses.
Coronavirus: Ten more Covid-19-related deaths in NI
Ten more people in Northern Ireland have died after contracting Covid-19, taking the Department of Health's total of recorded deaths to 923. Another 357 people have tested positive for the virus, taking the overall number of confirmed cases to 49,442. The figures come a day after some businesses reopened ahead of a two-week lockdown from 27 November. The restrictions have been criticised by some businesses but First Minister Arlene Foster has defended the move.
Covid-19: Sweden now has a higher infection rate than France or UK
Sweden today recorded some 393 daily cases of Covid-19 per million people This far surpasses 337 per million seen in Britain and 324 per million in France Nation has seen hospital admissions for Covid-19 patients double each week
Coronavirus: Northern Ireland to enter tougher two-week lockdown as hospitals face being ‘overwhelmed within weeks’
Northern Ireland will shut non-essential retail, pubs and restaurants for two weeks from November 27 to save the health service from becoming swamped. The country was poised to emerge from a limited circuit-breaker lockdown until the number of infections rose to worrying levels. Close-contact services and cafes can open this Friday as planned but will have to close again next Friday, while other hospitality sectors like pubs and licensed restaurants will remain closed throughout, Stormont ministers said.
Wisconsin governor renews mask mandate despite court challenge as pandemic worsens
Wisconsin’s governor on Friday extended a statewide mask mandate despite a legal challenge from conservatives, renewing an emergency health order requiring face coverings in public spaces to curb an alarming surge in COVID-19 infections.
Record COVID infections in Germany up pressure for stricter measures
Germany reported a record number of new coronavirus cases on Friday, upping the pressure on leaders of the country’s 16 federal states to implement stricter restrictions favoured by Chancellor Angela Merkel to tame a second wave before Christmas.
India’s coronavirus cases top nine million mark
India’s total number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began crossed the nine million mark on Friday. Nevertheless, the country’s new daily cases have seen a steady decline for weeks now and the total number of cases represents 0.6% of India’s 1.3 billion population. The health ministry reported 45,882 new infections and 584 fatalities in the past 24 hours on Friday. The death toll since the pandemic began is more than 132,000.
New Lockdown
Trudeau warns Canada's hospitals could be swamped, Toronto to enter COVID-19 lockdown
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Canada’s hospital system could be overwhelmed by a possible quadrupling of new COVID-19 cases by year end as its biggest city Toronto prepared to impose a lockdown. Trudeau implored Canadians to stay home as much as possible as a second wave of the novel coronavirus rips across the country, forcing several of the 10 provinces to reimpose curbs on movement and businesses. Cases continue to spike and authorities complain some people are being more careless about taking precautions.
South Australia says man's 'lie' caused coronavirus lockdown as harsh curbs eased
South Australia’s drastic six-day coronavirus lockdown was triggered by a “lie” to contact tracers from a man who tested positive and restrictions across the state are set to be lifted much sooner than first planned, authorities said on Friday.
Toronto is under a 28-day COVID-19 lockdown starting Monday. Here’s what that means
With the risk of overwhelming hospitals in red zones with COVID-19 patients now imminent, Premier Doug Ford is moving Toronto into a 28-day lockdown along with Peel Region. The new measures will return the city to an experience similar to the earlier days of the pandemic with widespread closures. In Toronto, here is what that means as far as closures and new limitations as of 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 23: